GYMPIE farmers Bill and Sue Blakeney are devastated after the sale of their property fell through when it was revealed about half of their land was covered by a trigger map.
"As soon as the buyer saw the trigger map covering the property, he threw his hands up in the air, saying it was all too difficult for him," a distressed Mrs Blakeney said.
"We're trying to retire. We've made plans, not just what we want to do in future, but also about selling off excess cattle.
"That's a $3.2 million contract out the window because of some green paint on a map.
"Bill is 76. We should be slowing down. Now we don't know what to do."
Adding to the confusion Mrs Blakeney said since the sale fell through it appeared the trigger map had been removed from the Kia Ora farmland.
Why a trigger map was applied in recent weeks to the farmland has not been explained to the Blakeneys. The Department of Environment and Science has also not contacted the Blakeneys to explain why the offending green blotches were removed.
The highly productive 160 hectares (395 acres) in question had been developed for dairy cattle more than 100 years ago and is open pasture land with irrigation in place.
The entire area is also marked as category X under the Queensland Government's vegetation mapping, meaning it is considered exempt from vegetation management restrictions under the Vegetation Management Act.
However, trigger maps come under the under the separate Nature Conservation Act. These maps show 'high-risk areas' where endangered, vulnerable or near threatened plants are considered to be present or are likely to be present.
People who interfere with the flora on land covered by a trigger map face fines of up to $400,000 regardless or not if land is mapped as category X.
Landholders can appeal the mapping. However, they are required to provide a certified report from an ecologist or at botanist stating there are no endangered, vulnerable or near threatened plants present.
That exercise of employing a consultant can cost anywhere from $5000 to $25,000.
Mrs Blakeney said it had also been extremely difficult to access the trigger map using the Queensland Globe website.
"Fortunately, I had someone to talk me through it, otherwise I never could have accessed it," she said.
How to view the Qld's flora trigger maps
- First, open the Queensland Globe (click here).
- Then click on Layers in the left hand menu.
- Click on Add Layers, indicated by a white cross on a blue circle.
- Then click on Biota using the small right hand arrow (v).
- Click on Nature Conservation Information using the small right hand arrow (v).
- Click on the square for Protected Plants Trigger Map.
- A map of Queensland should then appear.
- To unlock the high risk areas, scroll down to Imagery and Base Maps and click off the green square (click twice).
- Zoom in to see the affected areas.
The department says people needing assistance with trigger maps can email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 1300 130 371 (option 4).